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Are you a multichannel retailer yet? Are you going to be one soon?

Selling across channels is a mammoth task in itself, but knowing how to pull the right customers can help you immensely. This guide is designed to help you do retail marketing just right.

Here, we will discuss the basics of, and the need for, branding. We will then cover customer personas and what they mean for your business. (Also, look out for a feature on 360-degree customer views.) We will then move on to acquiring new customers, and retaining old ones for repeat purchases. Lastly, we will discuss conversion and how to track conversions the right way.

In other words, if you’ve ever wondered about the big, bad world of marketing, and if you’re asking any of the following questions, this guide is for you.

  • Why do I need a brand when I’m selling just fine?
  • What are my customers really looking for?
  • Are my customers satisfied with their experience with me?
  • Is selling on social media a good idea?
  • Am I getting the returns I deserve for my marketing spend?
  • How do I make the most of my marketing budget?

The Brand Stand

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Your retail business operates next to several factors- market influence, your competitors and other products that could be used as a replacement to your own. Hence, how you position your brand should take all of these things into account.

To understand how positioning can influence customer perceptions, look no further than Crocs. The shoes are ugly, and everyone knows that. But for outdoorsy kids and their mums who cannot handle washing shoes every day, they are a godsend.

Why?

Because they are dishwasher safe.

Now, Crocs were never positioned as a good looking shoe. Instead, they were positioned as a utility shoe. So kids, adults, doctors, anyone in a profession that involves walking a lot, they all buy them.

Understanding what your brand does for your customers and advertising along those lines can work wonders for your retail business.

Key Takeaway: The first step in successful marketing is good brand positioning. To crystallize your brand’s position, start with your Unique Selling Point (USP).

Mind maps are an excellent tool for zeroing down on your USP. Start with your niche at the center. What are some products that you can sell to this audience? Who else is selling the same stuff? What can you do with your products to be different? What is each product’s USP?

This is also the process that small retailers use to gain an edge over the big fish. Knowing where you stand is the basis of good marketing.

Find Your Brand Position Now Using These Steps!

  1. Define all of your relevant buyers (see the next section on customer personas for more).
  2. Identify four attributes that define the space in which your product operates. For example, toothbrush sellers can use ‘very little brand association’, ‘price sensitivity’, ‘recommended by dentists’ and ‘product lifetime’ as attributes.
  3. Conduct customer surveys to see how sensitive people are to these attributes. This also gives you a chance to add/ remove attributes based on real data. The sample size can be small, but try and go for diversity.
  4. Define where your product stands in this space, and therefore in a potential customer’s mind. Again, list out all of your product’s features and match them from the attributes from earlier.
  5. Figure out which ones don’t map with any of the attributes. These will be secondary advertisements.
  6. Find one main feature that links to all attributes. This is your USP. This will be the primary advertising material.

Understanding Your Customers

The first thing to know about your customer- your market is not your customer.

For a toothbrush retailer, the entire world is the market. But for a retailer like Sensodyne, people with sensitive teeth, people who rely on dentists for expert advice and people who just want a no-nonsense toothbrush are ideal customers.

On one level, ideal customers and the market, in general, can be separated by the number of repeat purchases they make. Someone buying unique stationery may just be going for the product itself. Someone going for it, again and again, is seeing the value it offers.

Your exercise in building customer personas is to identify those ideal people who will never deviate from the path and always continue to buy your products alone for their specific needs. These people are your best advocates.

Key Takeaway: Separate the market from the ideal customer. Design your marketing efforts for your ideal customers, and the rest will follow.

Today, several seasoned marketers argue that a customer cannot be defined by a past purchase anymore. For example, ordering one packet of diapers online does not make you a mum.

In a heartrending post shared by a mother with a stillborn child, she illustrates the case for better data aggregation beautifully. You can read the full post here. In essence, advertising follows a straight line path with the basic assumption that we know what our customers want. We rarely ever account for major changes along the trajectory.

You can change this with the help of 360-degree customer views. Instead of looking at them in terms of age, gender, and annual earnings, you can look at all of these factors and more as a single profile of a person. If you use software like Salesforce, you can do this for each individual customer you have.

Even otherwise, there’s a simple way to look at your customers in a more comprehensive manner.

Your Ideal Customer Is An Exercise Away!

  1. Evaluate your entry points. What are the different ways by which your customers can discover/ are discovering you? What aspects of this channel are connecting you to them?
  2. Do the same for your competitors. If you were someone who knew nothing about the company but interested in the niche, how many steps does it take to get to the competitor’s website? What are these steps?
  3. Use your own past sales data to track repeat purchases and the frequency with which they happen. What are the loyal ones buying from you, and why do you think they are?
  4. Choose repeat customers over the past year or so and track their interactions with you over time. Needless to say, a good CRM system makes this process easier, but you can still do it with Analytics and a good deal of time.
  5. Use all of these insights to fill out your customer profiles. If your customer were opening a new Facebook account and sharing every little detail, what would they be filling out?

Product Pricing

We could write a book on product pricing, (we probably will), and that will still not be enough to understand everything there is to say!

A product’s price is representative of the value a customer places on it. It also reflects opportunity cost- what you lose out on in order to buy this. In general, services are more expensive than products because they have a time element to them.

Products, on the other hand, serve a specific purpose. They help in our daily life or mark a memory. Sometimes, they last several generations and get passed on as heirlooms. Depending on how a product is used, its perceived value changes.

How you price a product is reflective of the brand image you try to project. For example, a shampoo can be bought for $3, but a custom shampoo built just for you can cost upwards of $10 or more. Lush, for example, sells an 11 fl. oz. shampoo for $30. Dove, on the other hand, sells a 30 fl. oz. shampoo for $7.

It’s just shampoo! But both brands have positioned themselves differently, and therefore price their products differently.

Seven Steps To Finding Your Product’s Price

  1. Know what your market is willing to pay. Customer surveys help here.
  2. Choose between a cost-plus approach or value-based pricing basis the inputs you get from your market.
  3. Calculate your cost price, inclusive of shipping and taxes. Doing this allows you to pull off offers like free shipping to entice customers.
  4. Add a premium based on your market and your brand’s positioning.
  5. Review. Prices are rarely ever constant. As time passes, you want to account for inflation, new taxes, increase in manufacturing cost, etc.

Acquiring New Customers

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When you start selling on a new channel, your biggest challenge is to bring people there. If you are a new retailer, you can expect to spend a reasonable amount of money just to become visible.

As a seasoned retailer with an online or offline presence, you already have customers. You just need them to visit you on other channels, and hopefully, advocate for you in the process.

So, this exercise has two steps to it- enticing customers to visit other channels, and giving them a reason to talk about you to even more people. In the rest of this section, we will be discussing tips and pointers with specific relevance to these two points.

Acquiring New Customers Online

1. Search Engine Marketing And Paid Advertising

The truth of today is that it is almost impossible to be discovered without spending some money on ads. Research shows that ad spend is highest for Instagram, as is the conversion rate. Products especially benefit from visual media.

Over time, however, you want to spend less on ads, because they can add up quickly. One way to do this is to be discoverable by search engines for the most relevant keywords. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of using keywords relevant to you to tell engines that you are a relevant result.

In the first few months, you may also want to focus on paid AdWords campaigns to get more people to visit your site.

While you’re at it, also consider retargeted ads. Today, most digital platforms are connected to one another. It is no accident that you browse a certain website, and then see an ad for the same thing on Facebook. Known as retargeting, this process gives you a chance to make another impression on a potential customer.

2. Making Leads Work Through Inbound Marketing

Unlike paid ads which involve you actively selling your product, inbound marketing is targeted towards those prospects who are already interested in you. In many ways, it is the next step in the sales funnel right after awareness and exposure.

When done correctly, inbound offers much more scope for conversion and is cheaper than ad spend. Emails feature predominantly here. Today, businesses can also interact with customers through Facebook Messenger or their in-house chat feature.

Each of these avenues leads customers closer to check out.

3. Keep Learning!

Customers can easily get tired of seeing the same strategy everywhere!

Indeed, consider how much advertising we are exposed to each day. Some brands send out emails every day while others prefer weekly communication. It is imperative that you evaluate all options, consider what your competitors are doing and design your plan accordingly. You can follow sales and marketing blogs or Primaseller’s resources to have enough information to make these choices.

In some cases, influencer marketing can work wonders for new products. Explore more about using influencers here.

Acquiring New Customers Offline

Too many walk-ins walking out?

Your store may be the answer. Since you bring people in, your advertising efforts are reasonably successful. Now, it is up to the store and its representatives to make the sale.

From decking up the store correctly to setting the right expectations while advertising, there’s a lot you can do to improve in-store conversion rates. Also, remember to measure conversion correctly. You can set up movement tracking through the door to see how many people walk in (with provisions made for children and people shopping as a family).

Measure this number in tandem with the number of bills generated each day. This gives you an idea of how many people leave without buying.

Exit-surveys are one way to understand what might be going wrong. Asking, “why are you leaving?” might be too intrusive. Instead, your focus can be on giving out options that make them reconsider, such as a discount coupon.

In many cases, a store employee with a knack for conversation can pinpoint the problem. People often leave clues with remarks like “it is too hot in here”, or “that’s expensive.”

Here are three things to do today to bring in more people into your offline store:

  • Take a look at the banner outside. Was it changed recently? Does it accurately reflect what customers can find in store? Most importantly, does it instantly grab attention?
  • Did you get a chance to deck up your retail storefront? This is particularly important during the holidays. Even on other days, it is best practice to use uniformity in color and them to make a storefront attractive.
  • Do you conduct events in the store? People have options today, and more than just shopping can usually get them to visit. Depending on your target audience, you can choose targeted events every other week to bring people in.

Retaining Existing Customers

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In the world of retailing, Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV, is probably the most important metric to measure. To put it in simple terms, it measures the amount of money a single customer spends on your product.

CLV is often measured by extrapolation. You take the customer’s buying journey over all past interactions and try to predict what the future looks like. The challenge now is to turn extrapolation into reality.

And what a challenge it is!

Customers expect different things from brands at different points in time. When you start with a good customer profile, you set yourself up for success. Post that, it is about three things

  • Tracking the customer’s changing expectations over time, as seen from customer surveys and email opening rates over time.
  • Constantly innovating to stay ahead of the market, and
  • Always focusing on the brand USPs that brought them to you in the first place.

Selling to existing customers can help boost your sales effectively. Plus, since you’ve already acquired them, you spend far less on getting them to make a purchase.

Throughout this section, we will discuss ways by which you can retain, engage and convert existing customers over and over again.

Retaining Customers Through Online Efforts

1. Marketing Emailers

Like in the case of an acquisition, curated product emails can help customers remember you and hopefully buy from you again. Consistency is key- people often expect some semblance of order in their inbox.

When done consistently and with just enough products featured, the same customers prefer to buy from a brand they have already had an interaction with.

2. Retargeted Ads

Even repeat customers can be retargeted for advertising if they leave the purchase process incomplete. Moreover, if they buy products in one category, you can show them other complementary products in some of these ads.

Retargeting need not be limited to social media alone. Cart abandonment emails can also be considered efforts in the same direction. Usually, cart abandonment emails are sent within the first twenty-four hours of the event, with an exclusive offer that is hard to resist, but not too desperate.

3. Coupons and loyalty programs

We do like to use our reward points. In most cases, however, a fragmented system makes it too frustrating for the customer. Coupons are a one-time affair and can encourage people to complete the purchase that they are contemplating.

A good loyalty program, on the other hand, takes due thought to get just right. It can be in the form of a referral program with good incentives, or just discounts on the products themselves.

Suggested Reading: How To Increase Repeat Purchases From Customers

Retaining Customers Through Offline Efforts

1. A word of thanks

Memory and retention in the products space are usually short. Having a solid customer database is key to your retainment effort offline. You can send out simple Thank You cards with a holiday special souvenir to remind people that they can shop from you.

Mailing the sale catalog to repeat customers in advance and opening stores up for them a week in advance also shows them that you care about them.

Suggested Reading: How To Increase Sales For UK Retailers

2. Recognition at checkout

Sales reps often interact with hundreds of people each day but a customer only ever interacts with one or two reps. And they expect to be remembered. No one may say it explicitly, but everyone likes a word of recognition from the store personnel.

At checkout, the best way to achieve this is by asking for the customer’s phone number, which instantly brings up information about their past purchases. Sales reps can use this information to strike up a conversation. Customers who feel special on each visit and more likely to keep coming back.

Marketing For The Holidays

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The holiday season is a godsend for retailers. Growth in sales each year is often pegged anywhere between 4% and 7%. Everyone is either buying presents or cleaning homes or just going on a buying spree in general.

This is not to say that everything sells during the holidays.

Black Friday as a sales holiday is becoming obsolete because today, no one waits a full year to offer deep discounts. During Christmas and New Year, products like jewelry, electronics, toys, apparel, and home decor are most likely to sell out.

Start preparing for the holiday season well in advance. Starting towards the end of August of the same year is desirable, but you can also start towards the end of September and hustle.

You will need to plan for all of these aspects:

  • The offers you want to make during the holidays
  • The time period of your sale
  • Your core discount catalog
  • Your secondary discount catalog
  • Sending emailers and information
  • Advertising on various platforms
  • Shipping and delivery
  • Returns and replacements, and your holiday policies

Here’s an infographic on how you can prepare for the holiday season sales.

Resources That Can Help

It is always worth looking at past trends to see how they pan out over time. Plus, expert advice is always good to follow! Here are a few resources that can help you plan your retail marketing better.

Armed with a degree and a pen, loves to tell stories. When not telling stories, she also works. Hard to decide which one she likes more.